Lee Family Homes
The emigrant Richard Lee arrived in Virginia prior to May 22, 1638 on which date he was signing official documents. To Jamestown came Anne Constable as a ward of the new governor, Sir Francis Wyatt, so it was to the governor’s brick residence that Richard Lee came a-courting. They were married in the first brick church in Jamestown, on the site of the present picturesque ruins.
Their first home was on the north side of the York River, from which they fled with their infant son to escape the Indian Massacre of 1655 when 500 English were slain. They built again on the safer south side of the river, where they lived for nine years before establishing their "Paradise Plantation" at Gloucester. Their final home was on Dividing Creek (near Kilmarnock). Richard Lee died in 1664 and was buried on the "Cobbs Hall Plantation".
Richard Lee was Clerk of the Quarter Court, Attorney General of Virginia, High Sheriff of York County, Secretary of State, and member of the Council. His son, Richard Lee II, became a member of the Council when he was not yet thirty, and was appointed Naval Officer and Receiver of Customs of the Potomac.
The title, "The Lees of Virginia", requires acknowledgement that there have been many worthy Lees in Virginia who were not members of this particular family. The Lees of Lee Hall, near Yorktown, are a notable example. The surname Lee is derived from a common feature of the English landscape. It has been borne by many families in England, and consequently in Virginia, who were in no way related to one another. Richard Lee and his descendants, however, have been the pre-eminent Lees of Virginia ever since his arrival at Jamestown.
Thomas Lee, the builder of Stratford Hall, was born 1690, son of Richard Lee II and Laetitia Corbin. His brother, Henry Lee I, was the progenitor of Robert E. Lee’s branch of the family, of Leesylvania in Prince William County.
In 1711, when Thomas was but twenty-one years old, he was given power of attorney by Lady Fairfax as Resident Agent of the Northern Neck Proprietary, and administered her affairs for five years until the return from England of his brother-in-law, Edmund Jenings, who then took over the responsibility. Thomas Lee, who had become familiar with the entire area, then devoted his time to establishing his land grants. In 1718 he acquired 4200 acres in Fauquier County, including the site of Warrenton. The following year he secured 3700 acres at the Falls of the Potomac, extending down into present Arlington County. At the mouth of Pimmit Run, he built a tobacco warehouse. He eventually acquired 16,000 acres in Loudoun County. The town of Leesburg bears his name.
Thomas Lee succeeded his father as Naval Officer for the Potomac, served as Gentleman Justice of Westmoreland, and was elected Burgess in 1720. In 1722 he married Hannah Ludwell. They lived on the Machodoc Plantation of Richard Lee II near Hague in Westmoreland County . In January 1729, the Machodoc House was burned by Felons who Thomas, as Justice of the Peace, had condemned. Queen Caroline of England sent over several hundred pounds to lessen the loss which arose from Lee’s performance of a public duty. The money helped in the construction of Stratford so that they were soon able to move into their new home.
Thomas Lee rose in public affairs, negotiated the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744 with the Iroqoois Indians wich opened up the Ohio basin for settlement, and became President of the Ohio Company organized in 1748 for colonization. He later became President of the Council and Acting Governor of the Colony until his death in 1750. Thomas Lee produced a fine crop of young rebels; five of his six sons were leaders in the rebellion against England.
Richard Henry Lee in 1766 drafted the Westmoreland Resolves, pledging life and fortune to the cause of liberty. In 1759 he introduced legislation which , if passed, would have abolished the slave trade. He introduced the resolution for independence. He and his brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee were the only brothers to sign the resulting Declaration of Independence.
Richard Henry Lee was afterwards President of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, in 1785. As Senator from Vriginia, 1789-1792, he played a leading part in securing the adoption of the Bill of Rights. He established a handsome home, "Chantilly", near Stratford, but it burned some years after his death. A grand-daughter gave the name to her home in Fairfax County, which was destroyed during the Civil War, but the name in perpetuated by the community of Chantilly, near the International Airport.
Another brother, Thomas Ludwell Lee, took an active part in the Virginia Convention, served on the Committee of Safely, and because a Judge of the General Court of Virginia.
Stratford Hall Plantation is located just off State Route 3 on State Route 214, six miles northwest of Montross, Virginia in Westmoreland County and 42 miles southeast of Fredericksburg, Virgina. (Google map directions)
Arlington House was the home of Robert E. Lee and his family for thirty years and is uniquely associated with the Washington and Custis families. George Washington Parke Custis, Lee’s father-in-law, built the house between 1802 and 1818 to be his home as well as a memorial to George Washington, his step-grandfather. Lee made his historic decision to resign from the US Army at Arlington House and wrote his resignation letter in his second floor bedchamber. Arlington House, with its associated slave quarters and gardens, are now preserved as a memorial to Robert E. Lee, who gained the respect of Americans in both the North and the South and used his influence after the Civil War to help heal the nation.
Read more at Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial or Arlington House at the National Cemetary. The Arlington House is located in Arlington National Cemetary, Washington D.C. (Google map directions)
Revolutionary War hero, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, father of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, purchased several lots on North Washington Street in Alexandria soon after the War for Independence. He later sold the lot at the corner of Oronoco Street to his cousin Philip Richard Fendall, who built this wood frame house in 1785. From 1785 until 1903, the house served as the home to thirty-seven members of the Lee family. This period of residency was interrupted during the Civil War when, in 1863, the Union Army seized the property for use as a hospital for its wounded soldiers.
The Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden is located in the heart of the Historic District of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The large white clapboard house is situated on historic Lee Corner, at the junction of North Washington and Oronoco Streets, in the neighborhood of several former Lee family homes of the 18th and 19th centuries. (Google map directions)
Menokin was the plantation and home of patriot Francis Lightfoot Lee and his wife Rebecca Tayloe. In 1769, Rebecca’s father, John Tayloe II of nearby Mt. Airy, made a wedding gift of 1,000 acres and promised to build a home there for the young couple. The estate now consists of 500 acres situated on Cat Point Creek in Richmond County in Virginia’s Northern Neck.
Menokin is located near the town of Warsaw, Virginia. (Google maps directions)
Completed in 1799 by Richard Bland Lee, the main house at Sully Plantation combines aspects of Georgian and Federal architecture. Richard Bland Lee was Northern Virginia's first Representative to Congress, as well as General Robert E. Lee's uncle. On the National Register for Historic Places, and accredited by the American Association of Museums, Sully also includes original outbuildings, representative slave quarter and gardens.Guided tours highlight the early 19th century life of the Richard Bland Lee family, tenant farmers and enslaved African Americans. Programs reflect the history of Fairfax County through the 20th century.
Sully is located in Chantilly, Virginia on Route 28, 3/4 mile north of U.S. Route 50 and four miles south of the Dulles Toll Road. Admission to the grounds is free. There is a charge for guided tours of the house and outbuildings. (directions)
Charles Lee (1656-1700), the youngest son of the first Richard Lee, eventually inherited the middle third of the dividing Creek plantation, including the home at which his father had died. In about 1720 his son, Charles Lee (1684-1741), built a new house a half-mile from the original one and called it Cobbs Hall. The present Cobbs Hall was built in 1853 by Lewis Harvey, the husband of Martha Lee (1803-1878), a great-great-great-granddaughter of the first Charles Lee.
Cobbs Hall is now a privately owned home near the town of Kilmarnock, Virginia. The Ditchley House is close by.
Hancock Lee (1653-1709) eventually inherited the southern third of the Dividing Creek plantation, which he called Hancock’s Neck. He married, first, Mary Kendall, and second, Sarah Allerton, a great-granddaughter of Elder William Brewster, the leader of the Plymouth Colony. Rich Lee (1691-1740), Hancock Lee’s eldest son, inherited Hancock’s Neck and renamed it Ditchley after Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire, England. The present mansion was built about 1762 by the Richard Lee’s son, Kendall Lee.
Hancock Lee’s grandsons, Willis and Hancock Lee, and his grand-nephew, Hancock Taylor, wen to Kentucky in 1771 as surveyors for the Ohio Company founded by Thomas Lee of Stratford. Hancock Taylor was killed there by the Indians in 1774, Willis Lee in 1776.
The most notable member of this branch of the family was General Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), a grandson of Elizabeth Lee, a daughter of the first Hancock Lee. He distinguished himself in the Mexican Was and was afterwards President of the United States.
The Ditchley House is now a privately owned home near the town of Kilmarnock, Virginia. Cobbs Hall is close by.
If you would like to see more homes of the Lees, please download "Virginia Homes of the Lees" by Eleanor Lee Templeman.